Maps – 1885 Roebourne Town Map


Map of Roebourne Townsite in 1885

I thought it would be most useful and interesting to have a map to help visualise the layout of Roebourne town whilst reading the accounts of the murders so I made a mudmap. The basic layout of the Lots, buildings (black squares, but not church), pool and river were traced from a scanned copy of a photocopied map dated around 1887. [52] The quality of the photocopy was not very good and as a result, many names and annotations were impossible to read. The original source of the map is unknown but I hope to track it down.

By using Google Earth and its ruler tool in conjunction with location descriptions as described in the various newspaper articles, I have been able to give an approximation of witness residences and some other locations at the time of the murders.

Mrs Caroline Platt, a principal witness during the murder trial, stated that the back of her house faced the Union Bank, which she thought was about 150 yards away, and that “Mr McRae’s house is in a straight line between my place and the Bank, but a little more to the left”. [56] The Noonans, who ran the Victoria Hotel / Inn at Lot 13 were neighbours. As Lot 15 had a stables and a well (see Lot description below map) then logically Mrs Platt’s residence must have been on Lot 17. The Google Earth ruler tool confirms that this Lot is approximately 150 yards from the Bank.

The house of Mr A. McRae was described as being “nearly directly opposite the Union Bank” [30]. This fits in nicely with Mrs Platt’s description and places his house in the vicinity of Lot 16. It was also stated that Miss McRae, who resided with her brother A. McRae, had been sleeping the night of the murders “near an open French window, situated some 40 yards or so from the Bank”. This also confirms the location of Alex McRae’s house. [34]

However, it seems that Roderick McRae, brother of Alex, resided elsewhere. During the trial he deposed that “when I left the Bank I went to my home which is about 150 yards from the Bank” and when further cross examined stated that “When I left Mr. Anketell I went round the building into Sholl Street, and down that into Roe Street”. [50] It seems he possibly cut across the land between Sholl and Roe Streets as he makes no mention of going down either Padbury or Wellard Streets to get to Roe Street. I would be most interested to know where his store was located.

According to an article in the West Australian, Roderick McRae stated that the Roebourne Hotel was about 90 yards from the Bank. Yet a newspaper advertisement for the sale of Lot 124 states that the Roebourne Hotel is adjacent. According to the Google Earth ruler the distance between the Union Bank and Lot 123, adjacent to Lot 124 would be approximately 190 yards. Perhaps the “90 yards” was a typographical error.

Mrs Hall’s house was described as being 80 yards south of the Bank and this places her residence in the vicinity of Lots 114-115.

Mrs Law, the lady that delivered milk to the Bank, who apparently was the first on the crime scene but never saw the bodies, appears to have lived adjacent to the bank; maybe at Lot 116. “Mrs. Law’s house is close up on to the road, while the Bank stands further back from it; so that when she crossed over to the back of the Bank from the front of her house she would cross the end of the front verandah of the Bank, and could see it plainly enough; but if she started from the back of her house she would not see the front verandah of the Bank, because the house extends so much further back than the Bank does.” [50] Roderick McRae also deposed that when he left the Bank he was “close to Law’s house”.[50]

San Qui lived at the back of Mr Eaton’s butcher shop in a hut and had borrowed a pick axe from Charles Zeddie. Interestingly, there was a butcher’s shop on Lot 176 and Mrs Zeddie was living at Lot 172 in 1887 and was quite likely there in 1885. (see Lot descriptions below map.) If this is the case, it means that San Qui and the Zeddie’s were practically neighbours and this may well have been why San Qui borrowed a pick axe from that particular family.

Charles Warburton lodged with the Noonan’s and Frederick Bevan’s house was “a little further from the bank than where Warburton lodged”.

The location of “the backwash” of the river that was mentioned during the trial, is not known yet. Hopefully I will find out.


Whilst researching the original locations of the Union Bank and other places mentioned during the subsequent articles on the murders of Thomas Anketell and Henry Burrup, I came across the following advertisements of properties for sale in Roebourne between 1884 and 1887. These advertisements were repeated on many various dates and provide several nice descriptions of the buildings on the Lots as well as owners’ names. Text content in the square brackets show extra bits if info from another day’s advertisement for the same Lot.

24th April 1884 – ROEBOURNE TOWN LOTS 49 AND 50. Under instructions from Mr. W. Coffin upon which have been erected a comfortable two roomed cottage; stable 80ft. x 25ft. to accommodate 16 horses; hay and corn store; stockyard capable of holding 100 head of cattle; brickyard; and a stone foundation for a house ef six rooms. [53]

24th September 1886 – TAKE NOTICE, that WALTER ASHTON. of Roebourne, Storekeeper, has made application to be registered as the proprietor of an estate in fee simple in possession in the following parcel of land situated in Roebourne aforesaid, being ROEBOURNE TOWN LOT 20, 0a. 2r. Op., bounded on the W. by 150 links of Sholl Street, on the E. by Town Lot 19, a like distance ; on the S. by Town Lot l8, and on the N. by Town Lot 22, each 333 links. [54]

12th March and 11th May 1887:- [55]

F. McRAE & CO. will offer for SALE at same time ROEBOURNE TOWN LOTS 13 AND 15 upon which are erected the VICTORIA HOTEL at present in the occupation of Mr. W.T. Noonan at a rental of £6200 per annum. This Hotel is situated in a central position,and is the most eligible site in the town for a good hotel. There is a well of good water on Lot No. 15. [and stables]

F. MoRAE & CO. will offer for SALE at same time ROEBOURNE TOWN LOT 172, upon which is erected a substancial brick COTTAGE of four rooms, Kitchen and other necessary outbuildings. There is a good well of water on this grant with pump attached, and a garden has been enclosed and cultivated. [occupied by Mrs Zeddie]

If not previously sold by private contract F. McRAE & CO. will offer for Sale at same time ROEBOURNE TOWN LOT 176, a corner lot diagonally opposite the Victoria Hotel, upon which have been erected a substantial Stone Building, now let as a butcher’s shop, at a rental of £640 per annum, and two small Cottages, with outbuildings.

F. McRAE & CO. will offer for Sale at same time: ROEBOURNE TOWN LOT 1; one of the best vacant building sites in Roebourne. [close to “the pool”]

ROEBOURNE TOWN LOT 124; adjoining the premises of the Roebourne Hotel

COSSACK TOWN LOT 105; upon which have been erected a two-roomed cottage, with kitchen and outbuilding, now occupied by Mr C. Moore at rental of £621 per annum

COSSACK TOWN LOT 103; together with two roomed house,verandah and kitchen.

I also came across this description of the Jubilee Hotel (ROEBOURNE TOWN LOTS 1 AND 5) given by W. Lamben Owen. It is marked on the 1887 map but may not have existed in 1885. Lot 1 (see above) was still being described as “vacant land” in early 1887. Today, both Lots 1 and 5 are vacant land:-

“The Jubilee was built by Richard Wilson, who had managed the Roebourne (hotel) while Thompson paid an eighteen month’s visit to his home in Scotland. The Jubilee was eminently adapted to its environment and abruptly took the bulk of the trade. It was built of granite and cement and surrounded by a wide veranda. It had one large central room on to which all the others opened – bedrooms, sitting-rooms, private parlours and quarters for the proprietor. This room was lighted from the top with a glass louvre, and the bar was in one corner. It was used as a dining room; on occasions for dances and other public entertainments.” [56]